On August 13, the Men’s Basketball team departed on a trip to Rio de Janeiro. Only a handful of places can compare to a city like Rio de Janeiro. An unforgettable trip that consisted of both on the court duties and off the court experiences. The Poets participated in five games, competing against some of the best that Brazil had to offer. In the five games that the Poets played, they came out with a three-two record while being able to acquire experience versus these international teams.
Men’s Basketball Coach, Mark Jensen, compared the level of play between Brazil and college teams they regularly face off against, “[b]asketball in Brazil is high level and very physical. International basketball in general is extremely physical. Hand checking, moving screens and just general more physical contact is the norm – more physical than a typical college game. The skill and understanding of the game is high level too. There’s no doubt those games prepared us for the upcoming season.”
Fourth-year Bryden Lovdahl also gave his input on competition in Brazil to what it is like here in the states. “[I]n Brazil the teams play with more togetherness compared to the U.S. where there are a lot of isolation plays where we try to beat people with our athleticism. In Brazil they use passing and lots of screens to beat other teams,” said Lovdahl.
Playing basketball was not the only thing that the Poets went to Brazil for, they also had the opportunity to host a basketball clinic in a Rio favela. A trip like this requires some exploration within this city in Brazil. This included spending a few days at Copacabana beach, having dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse, along with attending a soccer match in Maracana Stadium between Flamengo and Athletico-PR. Additionally, they were also able to take a sky-tram trip to Sugarloaf Mountain, as well as visit the prominent Christ the Redeemer statue.
Jensen talked about what this trip meant to his team to attain knowledge, having an appreciation for a whole new, different culture. Jensen explained, “[t]o do the “non-basketball” things on the trip is always educational for our student-athletes. They get to experience another culture and gain some understanding of the bigger world they live in.” Furthermore, he described that this trip was a way to boost the team’s chemistry, bringing them closer together. “[t]he trip helped us bond, it helped us get on the same page with some X’s and O’s, and traveling together and experiencing new things always creates memories and strengthens relationships,” said Jensen.
Lovdahl emphasized the significance of this trip, not only for himself, but the team altogether. “[I] think I can speak for the team when I say that our eyes were opened to be appreciative of what we have. We did a clinic for this non profit organization and all of these kids came from nothing but they came to play basketball because it’s one of the few things that they can enjoy,” he said. Lovdahl added on by saying, “[I] think this trip will give our whole team a better work ethic but I also think that there is less room for excuses because of all of the advantages we have as American college students.”
The Poet’s trip lasted just over a week, they arrived back on American soil on the 22nd of August. The Poets trip would not have been made possible if it was not for the gracious alumni and supporters of our very own Poets Basketball. There’s no doubt this trip will have a lasting impact on the Men’s Basketball Team, both on and off the court. Although there is still some time before the Poets start their 2022-2023 season, the anticipation is high after putting together an incredible effort in the SCIAC Tournament Quarterfinals, coming within possession of advancing onward. However, there is plenty to look forward to when their season kicks off in November.
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